Fresno Mayor Lee Brand and Fresno City Attorney
United States of America

This is a humble request to the Mayor Lee Brand and the City Attorney to consider the operation of automotive dealerships as an essential service and allow dealerships to open while following the social distancing practices set forth by the city and state. We firmly believe that our services are a necessity to the community to help provide affordable and reliable transportation for essential employees. Many people's lives were disrupted by the COVID-19 'Shelter in Place" order put in place by our Governor Gavin Newsom on March 19th, 2020. Many of which were actively searching for a vehicle or have since attained the need for purchasing a vehicle. People unfortunately have car accidents or vehicles that break down beyond the point of repair and there needs to be an alternative for them other than expensive rental cars or inefficient public transportation. Rarely do car dealerships have any crowds of people in a normal circumstance and we believe that by guiding customers in by appointment basis only and staggering our appointments, we can help provide our community with the vehicles they need while keeping the "Social Distancing" order in-tact. Currently the City of Fresno list of Essential business states for: "Auto sales, provided transactions are handled electronically and delivery of vehicles is to the customers’ home (showrooms and vehicle lots shall not be open to customers)

This contradicts the state laws that dealerships are required to follow. First of all an entire transaction cannot be completed electronically as a "wet signature" is needed on at least 2 dmv forms. A second reason is that many dealerships have yet to adopt an electronic signature service due to finance companies not all currently accepting electronic contracts. This is an emerging system that is not widely adopted outside of franchise dealers using a select group of banks. The third most important reason is that to sell a vehicle "offsite' will be against the Vehicle Code - VEH § 11714 (b) A dealer shall not sell any vehicle at retail at a location that is not posted pursuant to Section 11709

We the undersigned, in a diligent effort to provide essential services within the city of Fresno, call on its leaders Mayor Lee Brand and the City Attorney along with the City manager to allow automotive dealerships to open with guidelines for following a proper social distancing model. There is a special circumstance listed for sales offices and model homes sales listed on the updated March 31st list of Essential Business for the City of Fresno that states:**Sales Offices and Model Homes can be open by appointment only. An appointment consists of one sales associate and one family (defined as immediate family who currently lives in the same residence and less than 9 individuals) at a time in the sales office or any model home. Have enough hand sanitizers for the employees and the customers. Disinfect the sales offices and model homes prior to opening each day.

We feel like this same special circumstance should be in allowance to the automotive industry to sell vehicles to the public. This will allow us to follow the proper laws currently in place by the State of California Vehicle Code - VEH § 11714
(a) The department, upon granting a license, shall issue to the applicant a license containing the applicant's name and address and the general distinguishing number assigned to the applicant.

(b) A dealer shall not sell any vehicle at retail at a location that is not posted pursuant to Section 11709 .

(c) A dealer who is authorized by the department to sell motor vehicles only at wholesale shall not sell any vehicle at retail and shall report every sale to the department as prescribed in subdivision (b) of Section 4456 .

(d) When the department has issued a license pursuant to subdivision (a), the licensee may apply for and the department shall issue special plates which shall have displayed thereon the general distinguishing number assigned to the applicant.  Each plate so issued shall also contain a number or symbol identifying the plate from every other plate bearing a like general distinguishing number.

(e) The department shall also furnish books and forms as it may determine necessary.  Those books and forms are and shall remain the property of the department and may be taken up at any time for inspection.

(f) This section shall become operative January 1, 2019.

Essential workers such as medical professionals, first responders, grocery store employees, delivery drivers etc need to have access to vehicles. It is not affordable to rent a vehicle. Or convenient for one or more of these individuals to ride public transportation.

The automotive industry is very unique in that the inventory needs more attention than most industries and also has an ever changing value that is constantly diminishing with value decreases. This is an intolerable financial obligation that is not protected in any way by stimulus programs or payroll protection loan programs. This variable alone will mean the demise of many car dealerships and will ultimately lead to many empty parking lots along a bustling and recovering Blackstone corridor (mainly). It will affect the future zoning ability of those properties as many were grandfathered into old zoning laws. If they close they cannot ever become dealerships again.

With some cooperation of our local leaders and under the guidance of the local government, we can get through this situation and minimize the lasting effects that this pandemic will leave on our city and our economical status. Please consider allowing dealerships to open again with proper "Social Distancing" efforts in place so we can continue to provide essential services to essential workers.

GoPetition respects your privacy.

The Open Fresno Auto Dealerships; We Are Essential to Essential Workers petition to Fresno Mayor Lee Brand and Fresno City Attorney was written by Shaun Chahbazian and is in the category Business at GoPetition.